What I'm Seeing Now

head_left_image

The Gravity Check - Insulation Slips Inside Walls!

Gravity works, and I can see it especially in older homes when I perform the gravity check - insulation slips inside walls!

This house was built in 1951.  And I see this all the time.

Doing a thermal sweep around the house each room demonstrated exterior walls that looked something like this.

Cavities that were not completely insulated. 

Certainly by todays' standards the insulation put into houses in the 50s was minimal.

And it is likely they didn't staple it up inside the walls.

But it is quite evident here where insulation has slipped, come loose, pulled away from the drywall, or perhaps deteriorated over time.

Outdoors it was 35F at this moment.  Inside the house it was quite comfortable.

The coolest spots on that wall registered 47.7F in this room.

And this was so in every single room.

Yes, gravity works!   It pulls things down.  Or away.  If something deteriorates over time gravity will scrunch it up!

Until the advent of thermal cameras we simply didn't know how much a wall can be made insulation free.  I have seen tall, balloon walls where virtually 1/3 was without insulation, it having slipped so much.

My recommendation:  have your walls checked!  Hire a thermographer, who are all really cute, to come by and look around!  Weak insulation can be improved, and efficiency can be regained.  At least to a point!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 69 commentsJay Markanich • December 14 2014 04:36AM

Comments

Jay, great point to get your home checked. There are some remedial steps that can be taken. Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) over 4 years ago

Insulation needed to be blown into the ceiling over my garage, Wayne.  It worked.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Even some newer homes could use this. Just reinsulated a room off the garage as it had problemss.

Keep up the good work.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 4 years ago

Jay, thanks for sharing, I've been in real estate over thirteen years and have never heard of "gravity Check". Very interesting.

Posted by Bob Ratliff, "Sold with Bob" (Robert Ratliff Realty) over 4 years ago

I would say that the cavity is probably filled with a loose fill insulation that has settled. Very common with older cellulose installs. I really can't see how a fiberglass batt can slip. Especally one that is full cavity. Having seen the same thing numerous times, my conclusion would be the vapor barrier is responsible. In fact that is a known deficiency of fiberglass batts. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

I agree with Jim, although I have never seen even a bad cellulose install settle the amount in your picture.  Either way, without opening the wall, the IR camera cannot be conclusive because there are so many other possible answers.  Any space between a batt and the wall will fill with cold air and make the whole cavity look as if it is "empty."  Many 50's houses have the soffit at the exterior come to where that line on the wall is, and it is a common place to have no air sealing or building paper/siding to slow the movement of air.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

To expound on what Charlie said, when soffit vents are installed, the same pattern is usually present on the ceiling as the air gets under the vapor barrier. I have seen it numerous times. Checking the attic, the insulation is uniformly in place. Unless that vapor barrier is very tight against the wall surface, you see what you see in your image. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

Good morning, Jay Markanich Gravity check is not a friend to insulation or bodies!!!!

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 4 years ago

There certainly appears to be a problem thermally here Jay, thanks for the thoughts.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 4 years ago

Raymond - and this can be seen in new construction!  I had one just a couple of weeks ago!

http://activerain.com/blogsview/4540709/-we-were-in-europe----another-thermal-imaging-story-

Bob - that's my term!  When I drop a tool (or my wrench falls exactly under the middle of the car) I call it a gravity check!

Don't know Jim!  When I have gone inside walls here I don't remember seeing loose fill, but possibly!  There was some loose fill in the attic floor, but also some of that lousy fiberglass batt from the 50s.  And I see fiberglass batts slip all the time!   Hence the need to staple!  The dew point wets it, freezes it, weighs it down and it slips!  Next time I get invasive on a home inspection (kidding) I will take a photo!  But really, I have seen it a lot.  Vapor barrier?  Here, in the 50s?  We don't have vapor barriers here like you do.  The only vapor barrier I have seen from that era (not tar paper, which is not attached to the insulation) is a crumbly paper on the edge of a 3" thick something that looks like wispy fiberglass.   I've seen it in knee walls on the sides of the small attic spaces in some cape cods.

I've never seen cellulose in the walls in 50s houses here Charlie.  But maybe! 

One of the questions on the Level I Thermal Image test is something like:

"T/F - thermal imaging is conclusive without invasive testing."

And I address your air pocket comment in the post!  Of course it can be any of many things!  Slipping is only one of them.  Gravity check is my fun term.  And this is a cape cod - no soffit.

Jim - no soffit here, but the attic insulation was very erratic and I could point to weak areas in the ceilings here and there.  The client was amazed.  No vapor retarder there either.

It isn't Barbara!  While my term "gravity check" works, it is really intended as a fun term.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

There are thermal problems with nearly every house Tom!  But older homes?  Yikes!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

they're all really cute??

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 4 years ago

Yes, Alan, all thermographers are really cute.  I have stated that position for years.

"Search, deep within your heart.  You know it to be true..."  Darth

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Cellulose has been around much longer than fiberglass. You might appreciate this bit of history;

Cellulose insulation has been around a long time. Thomas Jefferson used a form of cellulose to insulate his estate, Monticello - where construction began in 1769! What we think of today as cellulose insulation has been in wide use since the 1920's, growing dramatically after WWII. The energy crisis of the 1970's and 1980's led to even greater use of cellulose - and the reputation of cellulose as an insulation that would settle in your walls. That's no longer the case, and it hasn't been for a long time, thanks to dramatic improvements in manufacturing and installation techniques.

Link 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

BTW, I've been to their factory for a CE class. Was a lot of fun. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, I have seen settling several feet in very tall walls with no blocking. I've seen a couple reasons for this. Some of the old homes had insulation that was only a couple inches thick and didn't fill the cavity. I've also found some of the insulation has acted like a filter in the drafty walls and has collected quite a bit of weight in dust.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 4 years ago

Jim - I know!  When they did remodeling and such to Montpelier, James Madison's house near here, they found crushed corn stalks and cobs inside the walls.  They think he got the idea from Jefferson's Monticello.  I love classes like that, when you go to the company or factory.  My week-long class at Firestone was very enlightening.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Hi Jay, I doubt I would have ever known that without reading this blog, thanks.

Posted by Sybil Campbell, REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia (Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia) over 4 years ago

Sí, Hermano Rob.  Y slippo.  That's perfect Spanish.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Sylvia - I have had other posts on slipping or loose insulation.  It's more common than people think!  Thermal cameras revealed the extent of what can go on inside walls!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Rob - you do know that when I say "that's perfect Spanish," I am kidding and know it is not...

But you got it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, curious how you can tell there is no vapor retarder?  I would argue that your thermal camera cannot tell you anything about the insulation in the wall except as to how it is functioning perhaps.  Of course the worst kind of not functioning is not being present at all.  Almost no insulation in side walls prior to the 80's made full contact with both the inside and outside walls so there was always a space for cold air to get into.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

I got out of the shower this morning and looked into the mirror.... PROOF that gravity works!! 

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 4 years ago

If you're talking about the attic, Charlie, because I fooled with it to see!

If you're talking about the walls, I was saying to Jim that we don't have plastic on the walls here just under the drywall, like he's sees there.  And certainly not in the 50s era.  There may be tar paper (on the outside under the brick) and if there is inside it is that paper I mentioned. 

Fred - that dry air can't help...

Ouch!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Charlie - to specifically answer your point, of course I can't see exactly what is going on with the insulation, except that it is stressed and not functioning.

Does gravity cause it to slip?  Yes.  To pull away?  Yes.  To compact?  Yes.  To create holes and gaps?  Yes.  To be unevenly distributed on the attic floor?  No.

Hence the post. 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

If you inspected any of the houses I built after 1976 you would never find a plastic vapor barrier in either the walls or the ceilings---it always got painted on the surface of the drywall---two coats of 0-perm primer.  Regardless, stopping air movement is proportionally WAY more important than whether there is any vapor barrier or not---especially until you get into Minnisota or other similar places above the artic circle---like Syracuse :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

The problem with all your "yeses" is that in the gazillion walls I have opened up I have never seen it happen---settle that is---even the heavy rockwool batts. (and I am not a fan of the word "never")

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

What they are doing recently on rim joists and garage ceilings around here is to spray a very thin coat of Icynene and then insulate Charlie.  That completely controls air flow and then there is a great thermal barrier.  Good primer/paint on top of that would be great gravy!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Well, I has.  Dewpoints create weight and, to use the French word, slippahge.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Useful piece of information. i had not seen this before.

Posted by Mike Belobradic, Your Trusted Advisor in Oakville Real Estate (Johnston & Daniel Oakville) over 4 years ago

Plastic is not used as a vapor barrier here Jay. Well not until much later, like the 80s and that was not done for long although I do see plastic in some newer house beneath the loose fill fiberglass. Any older wall insulation here has a paper vapor barrier. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

This is totally new information for me. Wonder how one would go about fixing issues such as this? Tear the drywall down and reinstall new insulation? I would think it would not be very cost efficient or would it? (S)

Posted by Les & Sarah Oswald, Broker, Realtor and Investor (Realty One Group) over 4 years ago

Thanks for your post, Jay Markanich.  I will try to find home inspectors who can do the thermography.

Posted by John Mosier, Prescott's Patriot Agent 928 533-8142 (Realty ONE Group Mountain Desert) over 4 years ago

I'm glad to hear that Mike.

Jim - on the DIY shows I thought I have seen it used throughout the northeast, and Canada.  Maybe it is more so in Canada?

Sarah and Les - we built our house 17 years ago.  We moved in in September.  Despite my inspecting it many times, that winter our daughter's room, above the garage, was very cold.  I looked into the garage ceiling to see no insulation!  When I called the insulation company they said that our garage was used for storage and they were unable to insulate it before the drywall went up!  What!!?  Freaking ridiculous.  So they had to drill holes between all of the joists and blow cellulose into the cavities, all over the ceiling.  Covered nail heads can be seen on the right.  They used styrofoam caps to fill the holes they drilled to blow in the insulation.  One of those caps can be seen on the left.

In this house, or any house probably, they can blow in cellulose like this, walls or ceilings.  It is a great insulator.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Not many do John.  But look around!  And you'll find they are all really cute.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Yes, I always say that.  I do because it is really obnoxious, which I find fun...

; >)

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

So once discovered, what's the recommended solution?

Posted by BILL CHERRY, Broker & Wealth Coach (Bill Cherry, Realtor) over 4 years ago

Wow, another thing I didn't know but makes total sense. I've sometimes seen the paper backer totally disintergrated in rehabs but never thought about the sagging issue. Thanks for the enlightenment.

Good answer to Alan May.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 4 years ago

I have seen that device Jay.  It is really neat, like an MRI of your walls.  I had mine checked everything was ok.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) over 4 years ago

Great post Jay! Now I think I am going to have my walls checked!

Laziness is what caused those contractors not to put insulation in your daughters room. I see this all the time.

Posted by Sussie Sutton, UTR TEXAS Realtors - Rep for buyers and sellers. (UTR Texas Realtors) over 4 years ago

Jay Markanich - we have a program called MASSSAVE who helps us with energy audit - though I doubt if they will check Thrmographs.

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 4 years ago

Jay - I have to wonder just how many houses have ANY  insulation in the walls!

Posted by Dagny Eason, Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo (Dagny's Real Estate) over 4 years ago

I often wonder if my mother has any insulation in her walls. Her heating and cooling bills are terrible.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 4 years ago

What a great tool to see behind walls. I wouldn't be surprised if I see this in some newer homes too.

Posted by Athina Boukas, Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) (Virginia Capital Realty) over 4 years ago

Bill - there are probably many ways to handle this.  See my comment above in #35 for one.

Lyn - some of the older stuff does disintegrate and like you I have seen it.  I like playing with Alan.

I consider it the sharpest arrow in my quiver Grant.  And great for your walls!

Not a bad idea Sussie!  And the drywallers at my house put it up KNOWING there was no insulation there...

Praful - most energy auditors do not use thermal imaging.  I do.

Dagny - I inspected an old farm house, 170 years old, where the seller proudly told me that the walls were insulated with air, "which was the best form of insulation then..."  Really?  Dead air is an insulator, but not so much inside of walls.

 

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Tammie - may be very little or none, or old stuff not functioning well.  Have it checked out!

Athina - I had two just last month.  Here is one:

http://activerain.com/blogsview/4540709/-we-were-in-europe----another-thermal-imaging-story-

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I wonder if any of the local inspectors has that device?  I'll try and find out this wekk

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 4 years ago

Maybe James.  The camera and the training are very expensive.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Never gave this issue much thought... thanks for the information as I know it will come in handy one day.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ) over 4 years ago

This is happening in the 50 plus year homes and at some point, needs attention

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 4 years ago

Very interesting. I guess a house is no different than our bodies when it comes to gravity!

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 4 years ago

Nina - most people wouldn't!  Hence the post.  With the advent of thermal cameras we are finding out lots of things about houses we didn't know.

It is one of those logical things we don't think about Richie.  I just thought I'd bring this to my client's attention.

Gary - it does!  And you said it, I didn't...!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I had wanted to ask you earlier, if what you say is happening is happening, why is there not a pattern on the walls that would correspond to scrunching. The cold pattern is basically uniform as is the warm areas. The pattern in your image would be consistent with air leakage by a vapor barrier. If the insulation had fallen, the pattern would be hot and cold corresponding to folds. That's not what we see. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jim - this is but one of many spots!  Nothing was "uniform."

There are more.

The one I posted I thought to be interesting.

I thought it would help make the point.

There are more still!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Now we're arguing semantics. That does not look as I described. Could be any number of possibilties, but not scrunching. To me it says the wall cavity has likely not been fully filled with insulation as was common back then. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

The more pictures you show the more convinced I am that settlement is not related at all.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

I've got to get a look at this thermal imaging camera you have some day.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 4 years ago

J and C - you two have been splitting hairs since your first comments.   You brought up the loose fill, loose fit comments and I gave both of those the word "possibly..."!!   I'm not arguing semantics at all - words like settling, slipping, loose - whatever.  The point made in the post is that the cavities are not completely insulated!  Until the advent of emittance-measuring infrared energy equipment (fun phrase) we didn't understand exactly how poorly things can be in there!  To be sure what the problem is we will simply have to go inside the walls.  Until then we cannot be convinced of anything.

Chris Ann - next meet up (if you all have it at a time and place I can actually get to) I will bring Mighty Mo and measure the thermal radiation of a bunch of hot chicks.  And if Mike and Jeff show up I will get them too...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Sorry Jay, its just this theory of yours about slipping and lack of staples, I just do not believe that is the cause of the issues here or else where that you see. Especially when we are talking about walls that have full cavity size batts. Slipping would then be physically impossible. Further how would the installer have been able to put 1" batts in a wall without fastening? Undoubtedly the walls here are not fully insulated, which explains the cold spots. That much we can agree on. We also seem to agree the best course would be to add additional insulation, preferable cellulose. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

Maybe it isn't Jim.  But all the counties here say they will begin requiring insulation staples on the top 4' on fire walls, like along the garage.  They don't require it anywhere else.  Sure, it's recommended, but not required.  They want to require it because it has been found to slip, and they consider the insulation to be a part of the fire blocking inside the wall.  They even contacted me asking to send them images from previous inspections. 

I'll ask my Fire Marshall neighbor and see what he has to say.

Lots of insulation comes now "Staples Not Required," or something like that printed on it.   I have looked at that on new construction, like tall walls, where it was fine,  and then a year later at the one-year, and it has moved.  Some of it has been the no staples needed stuff!

Here is a previous post mentioning staples and commenter #2 liked it.

http://activerain.com/blogsview/3619799/pre-drywall-inspection-things-you-really-like-to-see---1-of-2

What's in this house is old.  When I see it it looks wispy.  The vapor retarder crumbles in my fingers.  You thinking it was loose and "settled," your word, is reasonable, but I have never seen it in the walls here in such older construction.  Charlie thinking it is cellulose is possible, but I have never seen it in the walls here in such older construction.

The anthropological, historical repair stuff they did to Montpelier was interesting.  I went twice.  And it was cellulose!  Just not what we see - farm waste like corn material and tall grass.   I thought that very cool.

Do you know Greg Stockton?  He liked the post.  I speak with Greg now and then.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

So Jay, here you can't even use batt insulation that can be stapled---has to be full depth friction fit---strange how different things can be and how far some areas of the country follow behind others.  I personally, knowing what I know about your climate, find it surprising that they allow a vapor barrier on the interior of the wall assembly.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Yes I know him and have spoken with a few times. 

Just for fun, here is a set of installation instructions for installing mineral wool batts (heavier than fiberglass) in walls;

Pressure Fit or Friction Fit — No Stapling

Both faced and unfaced batts can be installed by pressure fit or friction fit unless stabilizing is needed— for example, in walls that are higher than 8 ft. It is important that the insulation completely fill the cavity. In walls that are higher than 8 ft, use minimal stapling to hold insulation in place until drywall is installed. To install faced products by pressure fit, gently place the insulation into the cavity space between framing. Make sure the insulation facing is flush with the face of the stud. The insulation must fit snugly at the sides and ends

So it would seem this manufacturer says that stapling is not only unecessary, but discoraged as the material will be just fine without them because it won't and can't slip.

Just sayin' 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

Charlie - I have said for a long time that I would not be able to do inspections in other parts of the country!  I'd have to work with someone for a year to learn the local stuff.

If it's friction held, as R-13 is about 5" thick, it is squished into a 3.25" space.  That would certainly eliminate voids, and convection looping.  But we are talking about 64 year old stuff here.  Has it deteriorated?  Has it been affected by gravity?  I would say yes!  I don't know what it is.  I have only seen a thin batt when flippers go inside walls here.  It's minimal, which I say in the post.  It's not stapled, which I say in the post.  I have never seen loose fill inside walls, or cellulose.  All I know is there are many spots in many rooms in this house with inadequately-insulated walls, which I say in the post. 

I just finished 32 hours of CE in thermal imaging with two different certs - Building & Roofs and Home & Building IR Inspections.  I'm not a complete idiot (those classes aren't easy or cheap).  When I post something it is based on experience and understanding.  I have also had a post that says that IR is part art and part science.  Because that it is.

We'll never know what is going on here until we get inside the walls.  If my client does that one day, I have asked her to call me.  I would like to see what is going on.  I like learning.

As to the vapor retarder, that's a good thought, but it's used here.  And because of humidity only open-cell foams are used, not closed cell.  NAIMA even introduces the idea of condensation on their site, and how a dewpoint develops, freezes and weighs down on insulation.  The only place unfaced batts are used here is in bathrooms. 

Jim - you have gone from thinking there is loose fill in there to mineral wool batts?  Personally I have never seen mineral wool batts, so I could say you're cherry picking to make a point about stapling, but it wouldn't be relevant here.  So you will have to tell me what is going on here so I can change my post.  I think what is there is crappy old, thin, deteriorated batt fiberglass, with an unstapled vapor retarder that literally crumbles in your hand.  I do that all the time with the insulation in visible attic knee walls for clients to show them what happens with time.

Get creative!  Call it fillulose.  Or loose-alot. 

There's section of the long living room wall on the right.  Maybe that will help you.  Certainly this wall was not 2/3 insulated from the start.  This is one comfy house!

Since what you see there is not slipping or scrunching (you don't like those words) give me a word to use and I will change the post.  Clearly gravity is fooling around with the lousy insulation inside the wall.  Would this have been a better image to represent what I was posting about?

 

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Yes, that is a way better image. For sure something has fallen, settled, slipped, scrunched, folded, whatever. Like I said, there is no doubt those walls need insulation. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jim - there were many images.  My young client is enamored of the house, neighborhood, etc. and that's great.  But, it's an older house and that is what she is buying, insulation and all!  She's a sweetie and I hope she can make it all right.  She has me for advice, of course.

The bigger issue was foundation moisture.  That is the house where the listing agent laughed at me because "her guy" could not find the moisture that I found and reported.  Obviously he knows what he is talking about and I don't.  The report clearly said the moisture was in the rear SW corner of the house.  I returned with everyone and Mighty Mo to have another look to find that "her guy" tore off paneling and examined the front NE corner of the house.  Um.... 

My client's lawyer was there too (this has become a battle).  He was amazed that they could be so combative and yet have it so wrong.

I put up the other image on the post.

And maybe one day I can have a look inside the wall to see what is going on!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

That is sort of the problem we have as inspectors, we usually don't get to find out the rest of the story. It would be nice if you could go back and see, so that we can all learn something. 

And I think that image really demonstrates the problem very well. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

Once some clients bought a real disaster with great plans for fix up.  I had my doubts.  They invited me back when they were done and I was fabulously impressed!  It was a boatload of stress though.

Maybe this young lady will have me back.  Or send me photos!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

How hard is it to improve?   Cut into drywall, blow in more and repair the drywall in between each of the studs?  

Posted by Shanna Day Team Leader AZ & UT - Call 480-415-7616, Top .0033% of 40,000+ Realtors in our MLS (Keller Williams Realty EV (AZ) & Keller Williams SLC (UT)) over 4 years ago

A very good question Shanna.  One way is in my answer above in #35.  That's probably the best solution at this point.  But 50s insulation overall is minimal by todays' standards even when intact.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments